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The Case of Ghana: A lighthouse without an ocean. By Joseph Tetteh Teye-Kofi



Jochen Hippler identifies three aspects of nation-building. The first is the creation of an integrating ideology where the citizenry identifies and convenes around a central notion of belonging to a “nation”.

The second aspect is the creation of an integrated society where communication, some sort of traffic, and movement among the citizenry and public debate can transpire.

The third aspect is the creation of a functioning state apparatus. Ghana checks all three aspects and passes with flying colors. The average Ghanaian in the educated middle class actually will go to the depths of hell to defend and ensure that Hippler’s aspects of nation-building are beaten totally into the heads of Ghanaians who care to listen or dares to challenge the Republic of Ghana as it stands administratively.

As we depart from how well-versed the Ghanaian is regarding the republic, we move from the ivory towers into the unsanitary gutters of national development. This is where Ghanaians assume a “manna from heaven” posture filled with every conceivable excuse for why things are not getting done. If you dare ask why you will get scoffed at or be labeled as unqualified, mentally challenged, or too much of a foreigner to understand such matters.


Nations have to go through stages of development to graduate to a place where the citizenry can live comfortably. We can assume that the citizens are ready to work and be paid a fair wage. A wage that allows one to pay school fees for at least three children and still get quality affordable housing for the family. A wage that allows one to refuse bribes and still survive. A wage that allows a young Ghanaian to save and get married per traditional Ghanaian culture where the man has to pay a sizeable dowry before he can get married to a woman of his choice so long as the woman concurs to the whole arrangement.

I hereby introduce W.W. Rostow’s model regarding the stages that nations go through in their march to economic growth and development to provide a framework for this article.

  1. Traditional Society: This stage is characterized by a subsistent, agricultural-based economy, with intensive labor and low levels of trading, and a population that does not have a scientific perspective on the world and technology.
  2. Preconditions to Take-off: Here, a society begins to develop manufacturing, and a more national/international, as opposed to regional, outlook.
  3. Take-off: Rostow describes this stage as a short period of intensive growth, in which industrialization begins to occur, and workers and institutions become concentrated around a new industry.
  4. Drive to Maturity: This stage takes place over a long time, as standards of living rise, the use of technology increases, and the national economy grows and diversifies.
  5. Age of High Mass Consumption: At the time of writing, Rostow believed that Western countries, most notably the United States, occupied this last “developed” stage. Here, a country’s economy flourishes in a capitalist system, characterized by mass production and consumerism.

I must mention that I lifted Rostow’s model above from an article on development theories in Geography (cited//

Ghana’s unusual approach to economic growth and development starts and ends at the fourth stage of Rostow’s model without national economic growth and diversification. A lighthouse without an ocean to oversee. A shiny toy that crumbles the minute its foundation is subjected to a stress test.

For centuries, the inhabitants of the territory that modern Ghana stands on have sought to develop a nation that will serve as a beacon in Africa. A shining light in an otherwise dim part of the world. Ghana does not care to follow rules regarding the universal approach of building a solid foundation. She is blinded by the light and feels that it is her right to start at stage four of Rostow’s model above. She is hell-bent on driving to maturity without having to master agriculture and artisanry to the level where her citizenry can fully subsist. Ghana will rather depend on the rest of the world for her basic subsistence so long as she is viewed as driving to maturity.


Can someone remind her that a building without a foundation will fall? A building without a foundation that promises her citizens that there is a better place in the afterlife. She tells her citizenry not to worry about doing well on earth. After all, blessed are the poor and hungry, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Religion is sold as an opiate to the masses to keep them in check. Respect your elders even if they cannot seem to solve the most basic problems plaguing the country.

Ghana wants to skip Rostow’s first stage of a traditional society where all the hard work lies. She is hell-bent on skipping the agrarian society that serves as the foundation for any nation that wants to shine and become a beacon in West Africa. There is no lighthouse without an ocean to oversee.

Ghana intentionally forgets the preconditions for a nation’s takeoff. The stage where the citizenry focuses on the nation like a horse with blinders on. The nation and not the economic community of West African States (ECOWAS). The nation and not the global village in this age of bad trade deals, unfair tariffs, and mass production that ends up as a yoke that chokes burgeoning economies and prevents the underdog from ever becoming the big dog.

Ghana intentionally forgets that the first two stages of Rostow’s model must be mastered and assigned to muscle memory for decades to become the lighthouse. The shining light on the hill already paid dues with sweat and blood. There are no shortcuts to development and nation-building.


Written by: Joseph Tetteh Teye-Kofi.

July 1, 2021


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